"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.'"--Matthew 28:18-20 Do you spend a lot of time in the car? It seems like that is the lot in life for most parents once your kids hit grade school. It seems like we are always shuttling people around from one place to the next.
When we think of discipling our children, we often think of sitting down with them and reading them Bible stories or going through a devotional book as a family. And yes, these are good practices to engage in and we'll be talking about establishing that time in another post. But let's be real here. We don't do that every day. We want to, but I'll be honest here. The last time we sat down for family devotions was probably in January!
So what's a parent to do? Throw up their hands and give up? On the contrary! Do you remember what Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says?
[box] "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."--Deuteronomy 6:7-9[/box]
I love this passage because it gives me hope. If I open my eyes there are many opportunities I have throughout my day. It's not just that I can talk of God's truth to my children when we are sitting in the house. Nor is it only when we are walking along the way. But in between these two extremes lay a myriad of opportunities: while you are brushing their teeth, giving a bath, waiting for the elevator, sitting at a stoplight (or stuck in traffic!), and on and on and on. Think about your day. What did you do today with your kids? What are possible discipleship moments for you?
Not only can I disciple anywhere, I can disciple my kids anytime. When the kids lie down to go to bed at night is a great time to hear about their day, ask questions, read a Bible story and pray. When they wake up, we can help them dedicate their day to the Lord, whatever is before them. These little habits---for them and for us---help us to remind us to keep God front and center, just like those "frontlets" between the eyes. (If you are curious about what these are, there's more info here!)
God knows that we are forgetful people. I think I forget more and more as I age! Do you? And for our kids, they may have great memories, but remember that discipleship is about training and helping our kids to learn how to follow and live in a way that is completely contrary to their inborn nature. Without constant repetition, we (parents and children alike) will forget.
That is why the Jewish people kept God's Word physically close to them, much like we do when we tie a string on our finger to remind us (or set an alarm on our cell phone). They wrote them all over their homes. We can do that too by simply writing His Word on index cards and keeping it before us. If you can afford it, invest in art with Scripture in it or literally paint it on your walls.
We often read Matthew 28 (above), what we often call "The Great Commision," at missionary sendoffs. But what about the rest of us that don't go overseas? Does this commission apply to us too? Absolutely. What I learned is that the word "Go" means "as you go"...doesn't that sound like Deuteronomy 6:7?
If you have read the Gospels, you know that this pictures Jesus' way to a T. He was always on the Father's business, teaching along the way using birds and flowers. They became stories, parables and lessons for anyone who cared to listen. In fact, if we want to learn how to disciple our kids, look at how Jesus taught, not just what He said.
In fact, this is so important to Jesus that the actual command of the verse is "make disciples"! Jesus' focus isn't on the going, it's on the disciple-making. We make disciples as we go, as we baptize, as we teach. His desire is that His commands be all around us, before us and within us so that they begin to saturate our souls and ooze out into everything we do.
As I mentioned yesterday, disciple-making starts with us. If this scares you stiff, then you are in a good place. But don't forget that Jesus promises to be with us through all our adventures in parenting. We are never alone. And with Him by our side, leading the way, we can proceed and move forward in confidence.